'Stuff of nightmares': Rare deep-sea anglerfish washes ashore on California beach

(Jay Beiler via Storyful)

It's normally found a half-mile beneath the surface of the ocean, but a rare, deep-sea anglerfish made some California beachgoers do a double-take when it washed ashore on the sand earlier this month.

Jay Beiler says he encountered the unusual fish on Torrey Pines State Beach on Nov. 13.

"At first I thought it was a — like a jellyfish or something, and then I went and looked at it a little more carefully, and some other people were gathered around it too, and then I saw that it was this very unusual fish," Beiler told KNSD. "It’s the stuff of nightmares — mouth almost looked bloody! I’d say it was nearly a foot long." 

(Jay Beiler via Storyful)

WATCH: Bald eagle swoops in to steal Florida man's shark

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography identified the fish as a rare Pacific footballfish, one of the larger anglerfish species found throughout the Pacific Ocean. However, the species has only been seen "a few times" in California, said Ben Frable, manager of the marine vertebrate collection at Scripps.

The Pacific footballfish species live at depths between 2,000 to 3,300 feet, where sunlight doesn’t penetrate, according to the California Academy of Sciences. The fish use a fleshy, bioluminescent lure from their heads to attract prey. 

(Jay Beiler via Storyful)

RELATED: Sharks and manatees mingle at TECO power plant discharge canal in Apollo Beach

Frable identified the fish as female, noting that the females of the species have the lure on their heads, are much larger than the males, and have a mouthful of sharp teeth.

"I have never seen anything quite like this before," Beiler told KNSD. "I go to the beach fairly often, so I’m familiar with the territory, but I’ve never seen an organism that looked quite as fearsome as this."

Storyful contributed to this report.

RELATED: Toddler mistakes 6-foot alligator for turtle in sewer outside Florida restaurant